Break out the trusty skillet to cook filet mignon in a way that practically renders a steak knife irrelevant. One of the more expensive cuts of beef, filet mignon comes from the French term "dainty filet" or "cute filet," and refers to the cut from the tenderloin area of the cow. What you get for the hefty price tag is tenderness, since the tenderloin's muscle is non-weight-bearing and that part of the cow does not get a lot of exercise.
The French Way
Wrap four 6-oz. filet mignons in slices of bacon. Place 1 tbsp. each black and white or pink peppercorns in a small plastic bag and whack with a mallet or the bottom of a pan. Sprinkle the filets with kosher salt and the crushed peppercorns, pushing the cracked pepper into the meat. In a large, heavy skillet, melt 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the steaks in the pan and cook three to four minutes per side for medium-rare. Place the steaks on a plate and discard the bacon slices. Return pan to heat and add 2 tbsp. port wine; bring to a boil while scraping the filet bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 2 tbsp. beef stock and cook over medium-high heat until thick and syrupy. Lower the heat and blend in 1/4 cup heavy cream. Drizzle sauce over filets.
The Tuscan Way
Brush four 6-oz. filets with a little olive oil. Rub a sliced garlic clove over both sides of the meat and season the filets with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and about 1 tbsp. rosemary leaves. Heat a skillet with 1/3 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add 8 thinly sliced garlic cloves and saute until golden brown. Remove garlic and set aside. Drop four rosemary sprigs into the hot oil and cook about two minutes, or until crispy. Remove and set aside. Add 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes and toss in hot oil for 30 seconds. Cook filets in the infused hot oil for three to four minutes for medium-rare. Place filets on a plate and top with garlic and rosemary sprigs.
The Danish Way
In a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil. Sear two 6-oz. filet mignons in the hot oil for three to four minutes for medium-rare. Remove filets from the pan and let rest on a warm platter for five to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. On a small plate, mash 2 tbsp. herbed and spiced Danish cream cheese with 1 tbsp. Danish bleu cheese and set aside. Add 2 tbsp. dry white or red wine to drippings in skillet and bring to a boil for one minute. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheeses until well blended. Add 2 tbsp. water and freshly ground pepper. Simmer for one minute, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce over steaks and top with two strips of cooked bacon and 1 tbsp. crumbled bleu cheese.
Filet Mignon Cooking Tips
Because of its low fat level, filet mignon needs to be cooked with bacon or other forms of fat, which keeps the meat from drying out. The technique of searing -- cooking at a higher temperature on both sides -- also preserves its moistness and tenderness. After searing the meat, remove to a plate or platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes. This resting period helps redistribute the juices throughout the meat.
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